Marshall Islands: Nuclear waste is claimed to have leaked into the Pacific Ocean from the US’ Freely Associated State of the Marshall Islands. The United States has buried a whopping 83.2 million litres of radioactive waste generated in various nuclear tests on one of the islands of the Marshall Islands group. Researchers and the media have affirmed that nuclear waste has leaked directly into the Pacific Ocean from the nuclear waste site.
Between the 1940s and the 1960s, the United States conducted numerous nuclear tests at the Marshall Islands located in the Pacific Ocean. They include the US’ biggest ever nuclear weapon test of a 15-kiloton thermonuclear warhead conducted in 1954 that has been dubbed as the ‘Castle Bravo’. Orders had been issued to dispose of the nuclear waste and other hazardous debris generated during the Castle Bravo, and other tests carried out in the 1970s.
After that, nearly 4,000 US servicemen had buried the nuclear waste and other debris on a small island located on the Enewetak Atoll in the Marshall Islands in four years, from 1977 to 1980. Also, a massive concrete lid was placed on the waste pit. The nuclear waste site where the radioactive debris was dumped is called the ‘Runit Dome’ although the residents and scientists refer to the place as the ‘Nuclear Tomb’.
Various groups researching the region, have reported the occurrence of massive radioactivity in the Marshall Islands. According to the research conducted by Columbia University, the radiation in the area is higher than the Russian Chernobyl and Japanese Fukushima nuclear accidents. At the same time, climate change is feared might cause the Marshall Islands, which is located close to the sea, to submerge underwater in the next few decades altogether.
The locals and researchers warned that in that scenario, millions of litres of nuclear waste would leak directly into the Pacific Ocean, resulting in a disaster. The waste includes hazardous elements such as Plutonium as well. However, some researchers fear the leak may have already begun.
The United States has relocated some of the Marshall Islands residents and has refused to provide for compensations beyond $4 million. Moreover, the US administration now expected the Marshall Islands administration to take full responsibility for the Nuclear Tomb. The Marshall Islands residents also the administration is hugely displeased due to the US stand and have questioned how the responsibility for something the United States build, could fall on their shoulders.